Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Diligent searching DONE...

We were still diligently seeking out options for our girls and their education. (I won't go into details about why we are not choosing public school. We'll just leave it at the fact that it is not what we are looking for.) Over the last few months we have been throwing around everything from private classical education to homeschooling.
Diligent searching coupled with prayer have led us to make what we sincerely believe is the best decision for our children. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders replaced with tremendous excitement! I'll elaborate:

Right now Kayley is exhibiting reading readiness. She is ready to read...and she is wanting to learn RIGHT NOW. I've been hesitant to teach her to read because...well...what would she learn in Kindergarten? She would be bored. She would get antsy. Which means she would probably end up getting into trouble. :) I know my Kayley. Keep her mind and hands busy or watch out! Well...the more I've worried about Kayley being ahead I realize that I'm being unfair to her. I'm keeping her behind! If she is ready, and she is ready right now, I should follow her cues. Which is why we were already heavily researching schools and options. Here is what I've found:

So, we started with a tour of Grace Classical Academy a couple of weeks ago and we thought the school was great. One of the things I really like about it was the classical education approach and I have to admit that I was a fan of the modest uniforms. (All the girls had to wear skirts -no pants- and they had to be to the KNEE or longer.) The major downside to that school was the drive. I just can't see myself committing to the 30 minute drive (each way!) 5 days a week. That wasn't the only con though. I decided I wasn't a fan of the 'catered' lunch program. I couldn't believe that they brought in Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a and Dominoes for lunch. WEEKLY! (Granted you could pack your kids lunch, but still...what kid wants to eat a PBJ when they could have Taco Bell every week??) I liked the fact that they were a Christian School but I worried a little about how compatible their classes would be with our testimony. Either way, we threw out that option and continued looking.

After a lot more research I finally narrowed it down to the hybrid school (Gloria Deo Academy) or homeschooling & joining a co-op.

Today we took the plunge and went and did our tour of the Gloria Deo Academy or GDA as they nickname it. GDA was a pretty interesting school. The kids go to school 2 days a week, then homeschool 3 days a week. I am really sold on the idea of homeschooling, but I'm (understandly) freaked out about being soley responsible for my children's education (and honestly-a little freaked out about spending so much time with them with NO breaks!) That was one of the main things I liked about GDA is that they would be telling me what to homeschool and when. (I wouldn't be in charge of their education-I would just be supplementing). Another thing that I liked about GDA is the uniform (I'm a fan of uniformity - must be the military background?) I also liked that it is a Christian school. (Although, once again, what kinds of things will Kayley learn that is not compatible with our beliefs? How much damage control would we have to worry about? They are non-denominational main-stream Christians but they do a few things that I raised my eyebrows at...just as us LDS-types do a few things that I'm sure they raise their eyebrows at...) I also liked the fact that they would go to school 2 days a week and get to hang out with their peers and socialize (I know...the "S" word that everybody brings up when I mention homeschooling - that is a posting for another day though). While they were hanging out at school - I'd get the day to myself!

Get to the point already right??
Ok, so the point is:
Today we took out tour.
AND here are some MORE things I found out...
First, they start each morning with a devotional. Then they say the "Pledge of Alliegiance to the Christian Flag AND the Bible." James asked the tour-lady, "What is that all about?" She tried to recite them for us and she couldn't remember. So she called over a student (maybe about 7th or 8th grade girl) and asked her to recite it for us. She couldn't remember it either. Well...lets just say that is not very impressive. And they supposedly say them every morning.

Ok, so we continued our tour and stumbled across a bunch of High Schoolers playing Muscial Chairs as they reviewed for a test. Ok... I'm sorry... but those skirts. Uniforms or not...they are WAY TOO SHORT. For a school that brags that they do everything to honor and glorify God, I'm not so sure that those WAY too SHORT skirts are very appropriate, modest and pleasing to our Heavenly Father. When I asked about the uniform standards I was told that the skirts must be at the fingertips or lower. (The only way THOSE skirts were at their fingertips is if their shoulders are growing out of their ears!)

Next she told us a little bit about what the kids are studying and we took a tour of a K classroom. For some reason the kindergarteners memorize all of the African Countries. Why? I have no clue. Is that really useful for some reason? They also memorize the 50 states. Ok, the 50 states I could see... presidents of the US I could see... but African Countries? I'm not sure what the point of that is... Oh and of course they also have Math, Phonics, Science, Bible study, and PE.

We ended our tour talking about curriculum and the classical method of education. With the classical method they do a lot of rote memorization. (Perhaps that is why they memorize something obscure like African Countries...if we really wanted to memorize something lets memorize the 10 commandments or something useful!) Also, you have to BUY the homeschool curriculum AND pay tuition. (Your tuition doesn't pay for books or materials, which I expected from Grace but not really from GDA). Oh and uniforms. (Don't get me wrong..I love the uniform idea as long as they are modest). By the time you add up all the extras, you would be paying the same as Grace...at 5 days per week. Plus, you do not even get to remotely choose what curriculum they would be using. Sonlight for phonics, Abeka for math, etc. So, it really isn't homeschooling at all. You can supplement, but it looks like what they give you for homeschool-homework would keep them really busy. So supplementation could be overwhelming for your poor kid. Don't get me wrong. The school looks like a great option. But, maybe not the best option for us.

Before we left they did the GDA intake-test on Kayley. She tested as Gifted. She tested at the Kindergarten level. She is only 3. They asked us if we wanted to put her on the Kindergarten wait-list for Fall. My 3 year old... starting Kindergarten? In August? Ok, so she would be 4 years old in August. BARELY. Uhm. I am so grateful that my daughter is a smartie. (I knew it all along) but to put my baby in K in the fall? I can't do it. She would be almost 2 years younger than her classmates. One thing that the administrator said that really stuck with me as we were leaving. She said, "Gifted children need to be challenged...or they will lose that gift." She's right. Kayley needs to move on...right now. Not 2 years from now in Kindergarten. NOW. But not at the expense of her self-esteem by putting her with kids 2 years older and starting kindergarten now. I don't think that will make her happy.
And really that is what matters.

You know, as a parent, you are homeschooling your children all along.
Everything they learned up to K they learned from YOU.

Somebody else gave me this wise advice:

When the time comes for Kayley to start Kindergarten
instead of asking yourself,

"Should I homeschool?

Maybe you should ask yourself:

"Should I continue to homeschool?"

Yes.
It's official.

I'm going to homeschool.
(And yes - I am freaking out)


4 comments:

  1. YEAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! You will NEVER regret that decision!!!! I'm still working on the odyssey email to you...it is forthcoming!

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  2. I think its a great idea! I follow another blog of an adoptive mom that has researched homeschooling all year long. She just committed to doing homeschool next year. She doesn't put labels on her blog so I can't link you to all the posts that show her research but here is her blog address http://jeefamily.blogspot.com/.
    Are you on the LDS Adoptive Families Yahoo group? She is on there and has talked about it there too. I know she spent a lot of time researching the different curriculum available for home school and she seems pretty excited about the one she choose. I'm sure she would love to share her thoughts with you. Leave a comment on her blog or if you rather, email me at sourbonk [at]yahoo.com and I will get you in touch with her.

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  3. Stephanie - Sonlight is actually a good option for purchasing curriculum materials (I worked there before - when I was pregnant with Kayley actually) as you move a long the home school route. All the materials I took a look at (general studies ones mainly) in the warehouse seemed pretty comprehensive on their relative subjects.
    So, in short - I'd say that's a good idea to look into what kind of curriculum you can purchase from them for general subjects (their dissection science kits for High School/Middle School aged kids were pretty cool too).

    Good luck with getting things going - you have a while to really plan - don't be afraid to ask for advice - but also, don't be afraid to turn down any you hear (there is not a "one way for everybody" in any type of schooling).

    Also, and idea on the uniforms: I personally think it is ok to enforce a uniform at home for when "school is in session." This can help get Kayley into the mindset of "it's time to learn" vs "it's time to play." Just like you have certain "play clothes" for her to get dirty in. Don't be afraid to give this a try if you want to. My best friend's mother did when home schooling her all through Elementary - she said it was one of the best tools for getting Liz to "get in gear" and buckle down to do her classwork/homework.

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  4. I think it's a great idea. My little "reading ready" kiddo flew when I did Hooked on Phonics with her last year (starting at age almost 4). I have a lovely friend that had purchased it and let me use it. Our library also has it available to use there (can't check it out). But, if you're going to homeschool. . .could be a great investment. Grab those reigns - you won't regret it!

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